Adverts for Tesco’s plant-based burgers ‘Plant Chefs’ have been banned for its “misleading” claims about its environmental impact compared to meat.
In October and November 2021, Tesco ran ads which featured a woman about to eat while hearing the words on TV about the benefits of the Tesco Plant Chef burger.
“The planet is continuing to warm,” after which a voice-over said: “Now that’s not what Zoe likes to hear, but she’s gonna roll up her sleeves and do her bit … and there it is, a delicious Tesco Plant Chef burger.
“We’ve lowered the price of dozens of our Plant Chef products because a little swap can make a difference to the planet.”
Tesco’s website also stated: “We’ve lowered the price of dozens of Plant Chef products Because a little swap is good for your pocket and even better for the planet.”
Tesco said the claims were not, nor meant to be, “absolute environmental claims” as they did not claim that the products were wholly sustainable or good for the planet. The supermarket giant also emphasised the centrality of the word “little” in its advertising.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received 171 complaints that the claims around swapping products were misleading.
However, the ASA have decided to ban the ads, stating that because the claims about positive benefits had not been substantiated, they were likely to mislead.
The watchdog said: “Because we considered the ads implied that switching to products in the Plant Chef range would positively affect the environment, we expected to see evidence that that was the case based on the full life cycle of the Plant Chef burger in comparison with a meat burger.
“However, we understood that Tesco did not hold any evidence in relation to the full lifecycle of any of the products in the Plant Chef range, or of the burger featured in the ads. We were therefore unable to assess the product’s total environment impact over its life cycle compared with that of a meat burger.
“Because we had not seen evidence … that demonstrated that Plant Chef products could make a positive environmental difference to the planet compared to their meat equivalents, nor had we seen evidence for the full life cycle of the Plant Chef burger, we concluded the claims regarding their positive benefits to the planet had not been substantiated and were likely to mislead.”
The ASA also took aim against Tesco last month for Tesco Mobile’s advertising campaign which used expletives as names for food substitutes.
It ruled that the names were likely to cause “serious and widespread offence”, ruling the use of “shiitake” and “pistachio” to be unacceptable.
One advert seen in February featured text saying: “What a load of shiitake”, showing an image of a mushroom covering the last three letters. Another read; “They’re taking the pistachio”, alongside the company’s criticism of rivals’ price hikes.